Opinion Letters

Using veterans as a political prop

Harold Warkentin, Morden

MORDEN - 

 It was unfortunate to see in the March 8 Letter to the Editor MP Bergen, and the Conservatives, once again use veterans as a political prop. I would like to point out however that it was hardly surprising considering their past behaviour. Both MP Bergen and her party have long attempted to trick Canadians into believing that they are the only people who care about the military, however, their actions show anything but care.
MP Bergen opens with the dubious claim of Canada’s Conservatives always supporting those who served in uniform. While she may feel that way I believe that historical facts would disagree with her. When she was sitting, and her party was in power, Conservative MP Fantino had an antagonistic relationship with veterans including incidents where he showed up late to meetings, was being argumentative, and finally running away from questions posed by veterans and their spouses. This type of behaviour doesn’t show that you care about veterans, certainly not when he was still supported by the party and MP Bergen after these incidents. Personally, I can’t help but wonder what her reaction would be if PM Trudeau had behaved like Fantino.
Another fact that gets in the way of MP Bergen’s propaganda is that in 2013 Conservative funding of the military was 1% of the GDP. This is a level of funding virtually identical to the level of 1% of GDP during the much talked about “Decade of Darkness” for the military under PM Chretien and PM Martin. Conservatives like MP Bergen can’t admit that they were on Chretien’s dubious level as it really harms their narrative about being the best for veterans.
I also find it interesting that she brings up the point of the 10 million payment, yet not being able to have money to support veterans, in an attempt to show caring for veterans. Not a bad question to ask but I guess I would then ask her the same type of question and apply it to her and her government. How come we couldn’t afford to have the veterans centers, or properly fund the military, but we could afford to sell General Motors shares at a loss of over 2 billion dollars just before the last election to get just enough back so PM Harper could say he had a “balanced” budget? In your own way of thinking, how is it that the government found over 2 billion dollars that could be lost for a campaign claim, yet does not have money to keep centers open or support our veterans in the budget? If 10 million demands a letter to the editor I am interested to see MP Bergen’s reaction to 2 billion. Sadly, we already know what the reaction was to that waste of money (part of which could have gone to veterans) and that was to say nothing much besides deflect and support the party.
The Liberals treatment of veterans needs vast improvement and in a lot of different areas, and comments like those made in the town hall by the PM are unacceptable. However, for MP Bergen to think herself, and her party, are the people who have any moral or logical ground to hold them accountable is ridiculous. It indicates she is either lying, and parroting propaganda from her party masters, or she actually believes only she and the Conservatives actually care despite facts saying otherwise.
Either of those options isn’t the one veterans need, and using veterans like this politically is a big reason why people like myself have stopped supporting the Conservatives, or at least not buying the propaganda.
 If you are going to claim you care for veterans, your actions should show this. I am quite certain your recent politically motivated Commons motion for veterans, or associated talking points, do not show this care nor do they have the same monetary worth as the actual money you cut from veterans while in power.
Veterans do deserve better, however despite what MP Bergen wants you to believe it won’t be at the hands of Conservatives. “Canada’s Conservatives will fight for them every day, because they fought for us” is just one ridiculous example and rather ironic to hear from MP Bergen, someone who claims to respect the things veterans fight for, yet also the same person who couldn’t be bothered to show up for a debate during our last election. Democratic debates, an act, and freedom, guaranteed by the sacrifice of those same soldiers. The least we can all do is respect them enough to participate.
I hope others remember that incident, and many others, the next time MP Bergen attempts to use letters like this to further her party’s standing on the backs of men and women who actually do sacrifice. If local constituents agree with what MP Bergen said about veterans then they need to actually support veterans, and that means not supporting MP Bergen or her party.